Guide Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry (Bold Women of the 18th Century Series)

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Rickets and anemia are just two of the results of malnutrition that she discovered as well as an abundance of emotional dysfunctions. Irish Catholic immigration to the American Colonies was not as widespread in the 18th Century as it was during the Potato Famine. Few Irish Catholics had the resources to make the crossing, unless they were transported for crimes. Charles Carroll of Maryland, who signed the Declaration of Independence, is certainly one exception though.

Most of the immigrants were of Scotch-Irish descent, and they settled around Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas. For all of the hours and years of research, a good writer of historical fiction must never forget that they are writing fiction, not a document. Beneath the bright morning light, or when evening spreads its mellow tints over the heavens, the mountain is seen to its best advantage; but when the heavily laden clouds from the west sweep in from the sea, they gather round the lofty summit of Pirongia in a thick pall of vapoury mist, and then, bursting into a flood of rain, roll down its steep sides to swell the current of the Waipa.

When standing upon the summit of the mountain, it may be plainly seen that the Pirongia ranges diverge in all directions from a common centre, formed by the most elevated portion of the volcanic cone which constitutes the highest point of the mounta [Pg 39] in chain. For a considerable distance to the north and south, and as far west as the coast, this mountainous system extends in an almost continuous line, and assumes an elevation which varies from nearly to feet above the level of the sea, but it gradually diminishes in altitude towards the east, in the form of low hills and undulating slopes which finally merge into the broad plains which mark the upper and lower valleys of the Waipa.

Throughout these extensive ranges there is little or no open [Pg 40] country, but mountain top after mountain top, ridge after ridge, ravine after ravine, stretch away as far as the eye can reach in a confused rugged mass covered with a dense and almost impenetrable vegetation. The summit or highest point of Pirongia, which assumes the form of a large oval-shaped, though now much broken, crater, was evidently the central point of eruption of the volcanic forces which caused the various higher ranges and lower hills to radiate from this point and assume their serrated and disjointed form, and it is here, as well as in the numerous gullies and ravines which spring from it, that the geological features of the various rocks may be more distinctly traced.

As in all formations of the kind in its vicinity, the igneous rocks predominate, and of these trachyte is the most common; huge masses of this rock cropping [Pg 41] up everywhere above the surface of the mountain. Scoria, obsidian, pumice, and other volcanic rocks likewise occur, their gradual decomposition serving to form a dark rich soil, which covers the sides of the mountain and gives life to its splendid vegetation.

When I made the ascent of Pirongia it was in the pleasant company of Mr. Moss, Member of the House of Representatives. The country around the eastern base of the mountain was composed of a series of low, fern-clad hills, intersected by small swamps and watercourses fed principally from the mountain springs. The moment we left the fern hills and entered the forest all the varied beauties of its rich growth burst upon the view.

The steep ascent of the mountain began almost at once, and our path lay along the precipitous ridges which sweep down on every side from its summit, clothed with a thick growth of enormous trees, and rich in all the wondrous creations of a primeval vegetation. Among the many giants of the vegetable world was the rata , which, clothed with its curious growth of parasitical plants, towered high above its compeers of the forest.

Many of these trees were of enormous size, especially when they grew in the low, damp gullies, where they attained to a height of considerably over a hundred feet, with a girth of from thirty to forty feet at their base. A few of these giants were scattered about the high ridges, but they appeared to thrive best, and to attain their greatest girth, near the low, damp beds of the small watercourses, which, bursting from the adamantine sides of [Pg 42] the mountain, and leaping along their rocky course, formed the only music that enlivened these bush-bound solitudes.

When we reached the summit of the mountain, we emerged from the thick forest on to an open spot which commanded a delightful prospect. Turning [Pg 43] towards the west, we stood on the brink of a precipice which fell in a clear descent of feet into the ravine below; here and there a jutting mass of rock stood out in rugged grandeur from the adamantine wall of stone, but otherwise a thick growth of matted scrub covered the sides and bottom of this enormous fissure, and so dense and entangled was the vegetation as we looked down upon it, that it appeared quite possible to walk upon the tops of the trees without falling to the ground.

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Far beyond this, mountain after mountain rolled away in the distance, until the eye rested on the grand expanse of Kawhia Harbour, dotted with its broad inlets and numerous headlands, which rose in picturesque beauty above the deep-blue outline of the distant sea. North-westerly from this point the bright waters of Aotea Harbour lay embosome [Pg 44] d in a semicircle of hills, and, beyond again, Mount Karioi rose from the borders of the ocean to an altitude of feet. East and south of this the Whanga Ranges bounded the horizon, and right opposite to Pirongia the bold peaks of Maungakawa and Maungatautari rose into view.

Between this wide area there were lower hills which radiated from the mountain ranges, but it could be plainly seen that the greater portion of the country was formed of level plains dotted here and there with small lakes and extensive swamps, through which the Waikato and the Waipa, with their numerous tributaries, could be traced as they wound for miles away in the distance. Here and there upon the cultivated flats the white houses of the settlers, embowered amidst orchards and gardens, dotted the landscape, while Alexandra, Kihikihi, Hamilton, and Cambridge, and numerous other settlements, served to mark the spots where future cities may ere long grow into existence, and add wealth and prosperity to this fertile land.

It was, however, when gazing in the direction of the south, where the King Country lay stretched for miles before us in all the wide, rich beauty of a virgin country, that the grandest natural scenery burst upon the view, and charmed the imagination with the thought of a bright future. The aukati or boundary-line could be distinctly traced, on the one side by farms and homesteads, and on the other by the huts [Pg 45] of the natives; but beyond these features there was nothing to denote that the territory to the north was the abode of enlightenment, and that the land to the south was a primeval wilderness still wrapped in the darkness of primitive barbarism.

Head Chief of the Ngatitematera tribe. Last of the New Zealand Cannibals. A little short of five months after the events which I have recorded in the previous chapters took place, I embarked on board the S. Glenelg , for Tauranga. I had selected to travel by this way as I had determined to reach the Lake Country by the East Coast, pass through the centre of the island, enter the King Country at its southern extremity, and, if possible, carry on my explorations northward to Alexandra. Owing to the unsatisfactory condition of the Native Question at that time, the undertaking appeared to be a hopeless one, but I resolved to give it a fair trial, and as the Glenelg glided over the calm waters of Auckland Harbour, half the difficulties which had previously presented themselves to my mind seemed to disappear with the fading rays of the sun as they played over the water, cast fitful shadows athwart the romantic islands of the bay, and lit up the tall spires of the receding city.

As we sped on in the golden twilight, some of the most attractive views were obtained of the renowned [Pg 47] harbour which places the northern capital of New Zealand at the head of all antipodean cities for grandeur of scenery, and as a mart for commerce, and which, in time to come, should transform it into the Naples of the Pacific. On every side the most delightful prospects unfolded themselves; the city with its forest of houses rising and falling over hill and valley, and clustering around the tall, grassy cones, once the scene of raging volcanic fires, next crowned with Maori pas , and now dotted with neat villas.

Small inlets and jutting points of land came constantly before the gaze; the forest-clad mountains of Cape Colville and Coromandel mounted boldly above the sea; in the east, Kawau, the island home of Sir George Grey, rose in the north, backed by the rugged peaks of the Barrier Islands; while right in the centre of this grand picture the volcanic cone of Rangitoto towered to a height of feet above the wide expanse of water.

Every point, each sinuous bay and jutting headland, was rich in a varied vegetation of the brightest green, and as the softly tinted light—violet, crimson, and yellow—so characteristic of New Zealand sunsets, mingled with the deep blue of the sea as the shades of evening crept on, and the stars shone forth from above—the whole surroundings, as our vessel glided rapidly on her way, combined to form an ever-changing panorama of unrivalled beauty. When, early on the following morning, we steamed into Tauranga Harbour, the sea was as smooth as a sheet of glass, the heavens were blue and cloudless, and the town, the fern-clad hills, and the mountains in the distance, completed one of the most attractive pictures of New Zealand scenery I had ever beheld.

In fro [Pg 48] nt the neat white houses of the settlement rose from the very edge of the lake-like expanse of water, the country beyond lay stretched before the gaze in a broad expanse of green, whilst the bold outline of the coast, with its jutting headlands, extended for miles on either side.

Tauranga is not a large place, but its situation is delightful. It is built mostly along the west shore of the harbour, and commands a splendid view of the great ocean beyond, with its picturesque islands, which rise in fantastic shape, from the broad surface of the Bay of Plenty. The harbour, which is completely landlocked, and safe in all weathers, stretches out before the town in the form of an inland lake.


The rugged islands of Tuhua, Karewha, and Motiti rise abruptly from the surrounding sea, while in the distan [Pg 49] ce, towards the east, the geysers and boiling springs of Whakari send up their clouds of steam. Whakari, or White Island, which lies about thirty miles from the shore in the Bay of Plenty, is a cone-shaped mountain rising abruptly from the sea to an altitude of feet.

The crater, about a mile and a half in circumference, is in the condition of a very active solfatara, whose numerous geysers and boiling springs evolve at all times dense volumes of steam and sulphurous gases. There are large deposits of sulphur surrounding the crater, and several small warm lakes of sulphurous water. It lies in the line of active thermal action which stretches across the North Island through the Lake Country to the volcano of Tongariro, with which, according to native tradition, it is supposed to be connected by a subterranean channel.

The small rocky island of Karewha in the Bay of Plenty is remarkable as being the only remaining abode of the tuatara Hatteria punctata , [15] the largest lizard i [Pg 50] n New Zealand. It is a non-venomous reptile, about eighteen inches long, with a ridge of sharp-pointed spines like a fringe down its back, and which it raises or depresses at pleasure. When I left Tauranga, well mounted, en route for the Lake Country, the air was delightfully fresh and balmy, and the fervid glow of the sun soon dispelled the vapoury mist that hung around.

All the roads leading out of the town were white with shell, and fringed with trees, among which the tall poplar and weeping willow were conspicuous by their luxuriance, while the bright verdure contrasted pleasantly with the picturesque villas, around which all the beauties of the floral world flourished in luxuriance. Here the grass was of an emerald green, the trees looked as fresh as if growing under the influence of an English spring, the jasmine, the clematis, and the honeysuckle wound their graceful tendrils about, and whole acres of sweetbriar scented the air with its delightful perfume.

The country soon opened out into broad plains and undulating hills, which rose in the form of a bold amphitheatre to the forest-clad heights beyond, until suddenly there appeared right in front of me an extensive expanse of fern. Away over the plains, down the slopes of the ravines, over the distant hills and into the valleys beyond, fern, fern, nothing but fern, rolled away in every direction as far as the eye could reach, its green, waving surface losing itself in the distance like a boundless sea. I had beheld many bits of scenery in the colony similar to this, but this wild fern-clad region had a special [Pg 51] charm about it, for it had gained for itself a place in the history of New Zealand which will be as memorable, perhaps, in time to come as are the plains of Hastings, where Norman and Saxon fought for the mastery of Britain.

The road hereabouts passed over a slight elevation which assumed the form of a circular hill about fifty feet high, but the ascent to which was very gradual from the plain below, while it was naturally flanked by deep gullies down to which the sides of the hill fall in a long sweep.

There was nothing in this place to render it remarkable other than the fact that it was formerly the site of the celebrated Gate Pa, [16] and it was to the east of it, in the fern-clad flat below, just eighteen years ago, that General Cameron, with two regiments of infantry and a body of marines, numbering in all men, took up his position to storm one of the most formidable of Maori strongholds.

At first victory seemed easy for the Imperial forces, and, with such powerful allies as the bayonet and Armstrong gun, there appeared little more to do than to scale the redoubts, storm the rifle-pits, and place their colours on the summit of the Gate Pa. But with that cunning strategy which characterizes savage races in the art of [Pg 52] war, the Maoris had hit upon a grand idea to deceive their enemies. They did not place their red fighting-flags in the pa where their main forces were, as the pakeha would have done, but they distributed them in outlying positions below the stockade, and then they surrounded their false encampments with barricades of plaited twigs, and covered their rifle-pits with roofs of fern.

The stratagem was successful, and Cameron directed his fire against these decoys, but of course without effect. The firing continued from daylight until late in the afternoon, when a storming party was told off to rush the place. The gallant 43rd were the first to scale the stockades of the pa , but their leader was immediately shot down, and they retreated in disorder; while the 68th, charging the right flank of the enemy's position, were thrice repulsed and driven back under a galling fire. It was now found, just as at Balaclava, that "some one had blundered," and that the British were firing upon one another instead of upon the enemy.

The natives now, surrounded within the pa , rallied their forces, and as the dark masses swept down upon the thin red line fighting with the bravery of despair, a panic seized the Imperial troops, and then began one of the most terrible repulses and massacres ever experienced by British arms. Every vestige of the Gate Pa has now disappeared, and nothing but a small homestead, a ploughed fiel [Pg 53] d, and a few Australian gum-trees mark the spot where this most disastrous of Anglo-Maori battles was fought, and yet, although peace and prosperity seemed to smile around as I passed over the old battle-field, I could imagine that I beheld the rude stronghold intact, the red coats crowding up the heights, and the flash of bayonet and tomahawk as the bullets whistled overhead and the shells burst in the air, as the fierce savages dashed forward massacring their foes with a deadly and cruel hatred, and shouting loud war-cries which drowned the British cheers in sounds of agony and death.

And I could imagine all this the more vividly since it was only the night before that I had wandered past the redoubt hard by Tauranga to the small graveyard which crowned the summit of a cliff that looked out over the clear waters of the bay.

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Here a tall monument of pyramidal shape rose up at the further end, sacred to the memory of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates who had fallen in the East Coast campaign, while other smaller gravestones stood about like sentinels. Most of these monuments were simple in design, some were flat, some stood erect, and some were fashioned in the shape of crosses, but each told its glorious tale; and as I traced out the inscriptions by the light of the moon, I could read how one brave man had met death at Te Ranga, and another at the Gate Pa.

About thirteen miles from Tauranga I ascended to Oropi, which stands at an elevation of over feet above the level of the sea, and at the edge of the elevated table-land which extends for a considerable distance beyond. Looking back along the road I had [Pg 54] come, from this point a delightful view was obtained of the surrounding country, with Tauranga and its splendid harbour in the distance, while along the coast might be traced the winding outline of the Bay of Plenty, with its picturesque islands rising in rugged grandeur from the sea.

The sun blazed warm when I reached Oropi, and it was a delightful change from the treeless, fern-clad country to enter the cool refreshing shade of a magnificent forest, where giant trees, tall ferns, and myriads of creeping plants and curious mosses and lichens charmed the eye by their grandeur and variety at every turn.

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For a long distance the road took a gradual rise of about feet from Oropi, and then from a certain point at this elevation, that is to say, at an altitude of about feet above the level of the sea, it gradually descended feet in the direction of the Mangorewa Gorge. It is not easy to convey an idea of the Mangorewa Gorge; but one must imagine a mighty chasm some feet deep, sunk like a pit on the top of the mountains, which here rise to an altitude of about feet above the sea, the adamantine sides of the gorge falling with a clear descent of nearly feet from their summit level.

A sparkling stream, the Mangorewa, fringed with colossal trees, wound at the bottom of this walled ravine, and towering masses of rock rose up in the form of bold bluffs and jutting buttresses along its wild and rugged course, forming, as it were, the outline of a colossal stronghold built by the gods to guard the entrance to the wondrous country beyond. As I gained the bottom of the ravine the steep, roc [Pg 55] ky crags stood out in bold relief against the sky, the walls of rock gleamed white beneath the rich growth of mosses, trees, and ferns that fought, as it were, for life up the steep sides, while gay festoons of curious creeping plants hung from their rugged edges high in the air above.

The Mangorewa River wound on its way from out a rich canopy of overhanging trees, where the ferns, mosses, and curious parasitical growth, all mingling together, shut out the rays of the sun from the vistas beyond, and where the dark, dank groves, with their gnarled branches and coiling vines, appeared like the realms of a deserted land.

From the bottom of the gorge the road ascended to an altitude of feet to the opposite crown of the range, and from this point a descent of feet was made to the great table-land of the Lake region. It was evening when I finally emerged from the forest, and then the road descended rapidly as if into a basin surrounded by hills and mountains, among which the sharp peaks of Mount Tarawera were conspicuous by their rugged grandeur.

Right in front the shining surface of Lake Rotorua caught the last rays of the setting sun, while on its shores the native whares of Ohinemutu stood clustered about amidst vapoury clouds of steam, when suddenly even the water flowing from the side of the road bubbled up and smoked, and as the mists of night mingled with the vapours around, I seemed to have arrived at a region of eternal fire. The township of Ohinemutu occupies one of the grandest situations in the whole of the Lake district.

It is built on a slight eminence called Pukeroa, which rises with a gradual slope from the shores of Lake Rotorua, whose bright blue waters add a romantic charm to the surrounding country. In front the broad surface of the lake spreads itself out in a circle of nearly twenty-five miles in circumference, and along the bright, sandy shore of this beautiful sheet of water small bays, fringed with trees, and jutting points, clothed with the greenest vegetation, add variety to the attractive scene; beyond these again, wide, fern-clad flats roll away to the base of the distant hills, which, rising in the form of a complete semicircle around, seemed to have formed at some period or another the area of an immense lake-basin, until the waters, bursting into the rugged gorges, swept into the valleys of the country beyond.

Some of the hills fall with a gentle slope to the very brink of the water, others send out their rock-bound spurs, while some, again, mounting high above the rest, have their tall summits clothed with dense forests; while deep ravines, thick with a marvellous growth of vegetation, send down their crystal streams to mingle with the fierce waters of the boiling springs, whi [Pg 57] ch skirt the lake and send forth their jets and clouds of steam for miles around.

The native settlement, Te Ruapeka, is situated on a long peninsula, about yards wide at its broadest part, narrowing gradually towards its end, where it terminates in a sharp point, as it runs flatly out almost on a level with the waters of the lake. Every part of this strip of land, from one end to the other, is dotted about and riddled with thermal springs, some of which shoot out of the ground from small apertures, while others assume the form of large, steaming pools. They are of all degrees of temperature, from tepid heat to boiling-point; and while you may cook your food in one, you may take a delicious bath in another, and get scalded to death in a third.

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In former times a pa stood at the further end of the peninsula, but one stormy night a rumbling noise was heard, then a sound of hissing steam, the trembling earth opened, and the pa with all its people sank bodily into the depths of the lake. All the whares of the settlement are built, after the native fashion, of raupo , with large recesses in front of the doorways, the woodwork of which is curiously carved, and forms a very good specimen of the Maori order of architecture.

The whares are clustered promiscuously about the springs, and it is no unfrequent occurrence to see a stalwart savage, a buxom woman with a baby in her arms, a sprightly youth, or a dark-eyed damsel come out from the carved portals of a hut in the primitive costume of our first parents, and jump into one of the many square stone baths dotted about, and with no other [Pg 58] regard for their neighbours who may be standing or squatting around than if they were so many carved images.

The natives use these baths at all times of the day, and even at all times of the night—that is to say, if a man feels chilly in bed, he gets up and makes for his bath in order to get warm again. Bathing here seems to be a second nature, and the women and girls arrange afternoon bath-parties just as we might assemble our friends at an afternoon tea.

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There is something very delightful in bathing in the open in one of these thermal springs. I had my first and last Turkish bath in Constantinople, where the whole process had been so elaborately improved upon by all that Eastern art for luxury could devise, that to go through the ordeal was positively painful, by reason of the state of luxuriousness to which it had been wrought. Here all is primitive simplicity, ceremony is dispensed with, perfumes—at least of "Araby the blest"—are unknown.

You sniff the fresh air, which in these parts feels like the elixir of life, plunge in, and sit for hours, mooning the time away in a soft, stimulating heat, beneath the glowing rays of the sun; and if you are not satisfied with this, to complete the luxury you may leave the bath, and sit down, naked as you are, on a seat of heated slabs, where you may be steamed and "vaporized" on the coldest day or the most frigid night without fear of taking cold or of being doubled up by rheumatism.

Not only do the natives use the springs for bathing and curative purposes, and not only do they warm their houses by their means, and perform all their culinary duties by their aid, but they actually bury their dead among them. I went down to the further point of the native settlement, where there is a small graveyard situated among boiling springs and steaming fissures that crop up everywhere over the ground, as if the volcanic fires below were just ready to burst forth and swallow up the living with the dead. Portions of curious carvings, old canoes, and grotesque figures in wood lay scattered about in every direction, and one was apt to wonder how it was that they had not long since been destroyed or carted off to gra [Pg 60] ce some antiquarian museum as relics of a rude art which is fast falling into decay.

But these remnants of native industry were all tapu , and were as sacred in the eyes of the Maoris as would be a piece of the "true cross" on the altar of a cathedral in Catholic Spain. There was a small, dilapidated hut here filled with coffins containing the remains of several celebrated chiefs, and not far off was an oblong tomb, built of wood, surmounted by a cross, and as I gazed upon it and then upon the grotesque figures lying around, it seemed as if the darkness of heathenism had grappled here with the light of Christianity.

It was sacred to the beloved wife of Rotohiko Haupapa, the giant chief of Rotorua. Immediately behind it was a spring with a temperature a little over boiling-point—in fact, anywhere in the vicinity it was only necessary to sit upon the grass, and you would find the heat from below rise up at once, or to put your finger beneath the roots, when the soil would feel hot enough to boil an egg. It appeared strange that the dead should be buried in so singular a spot unless they had done something very naughty when in the flesh , and as the hot water bubbled up and hissed through the fissures of the rocks, it seemed to whisper forth the sighs of those below.

When walking around the whares , and noticing the various phases of Maori hot-spring life, I saw half a dozen members of the porcine tribe come quietly along with an easy, self-satisfied air, as if they had just gone through their morning ablutions in the warm, bubbling fountains, and were going to ro [Pg 61] ot round for steamed potatoes, boiled cabbage, and other delicacies. Suddenly a half-naked Maori slunk out of his hut, with a long knife between his teeth. Quick as thought, and with the skill of a champion assassin, he seized the foremost pig by the hind leg. A prod from the knife, and the crimson blood of the murdered animal mingled with a rill of boiling water, which was running past in a hurry, as it were, to cool itself in the lake.

A twist of the wrist, and the pig was jerked into a steaming pool, where the heated waters twirled and hissed as if in a red-hot cauldron. Out again in an instant, and then he set to work to scrape off the bristles, which came away in flakes, as if they had simply been stuck on by nature by the aid of a little glue, and the skin of the porker gleamed white as snow beneath the sun. In two minutes more he was disemboweled, and then he was placed over a steam-hole, with a couple of sacks over him, to be cooked for the evening meal.

From the time that pig gaily walked the earth until the end of that terrible process, about fifteen minutes expired. The area in the immediate vicinity of Lake Rotorua where the action of the thermal springs is most active may be said to extend from Whakarewarewa on the one side to Te Koutu on the other. The distance between the two points is about three and a half miles, the thermal action extending inland for about a mile from the border of the lake to Ariki Kapakapa, celebrated for its big holes of black, boiling mud.

A short distance from the eastern shore of the lake is Tikitere, a narrow valley in the centre of which is a boiling-water basin, about seventy feet in diameter, and which is surrounded in every direction by hot [Pg 62] mud-pools and boiling springs. Close to Tikitere is Lake Rotoiti, [17] whose deep bays and jutting headlands impart to it a very beautiful appearance. Hot springs occur on its southern shore, while still further to the east of it, again, are the warm lakes known as Rotoma and Rotoehu, the waters of the two latter being rendered of a greyish, opaque colour by the action of the subaqueous springs.

All the country within the existing range of thermal action, and, in fact, considerably beyond it, bears the distinctive traces of the combined work of fire and water, while the ground for miles around is covered with silicious and sulphurous deposits, together with pumice, scoria, obsidian, alum, oxide of iron, and various other products, the result of the igneous and aqueous action which is everywhere observable in the form of geysers, hot springs, boiling mud-holes, solfataras , and fumaroles , and which are known to the natives under the more general terms of ngawha, puia , and waiariki.

The water of some of the springs is as blue and as bright as crystal, in others it is of a greenish tint, while in not a few it ass [Pg 63] umes a dirty yellow colour. Nearly every spring possesses properties peculiar to itself, and mostly all are more or less efficacious in the treatment of rheumatic and nervous complaints, and cutaneous and spinal disorders. Upon analysis, the springs are found to contain various chemical ingredients, but in different proportions, according to the quality or properties of the water. Among the principal chemical bodies may be mentioned the chlorides of sodium, potassium, lithium, calcium, and magnesium; the sulphates of soda, lime, potash, magnesia, alumina, and iron; the silicates of soda, lime, and magnesia.

In the acids, hydrochloric, sulphuric, and muriatic are found in abundance, while both sulphuretted hydrogen and carbonic acid gas are largely evolved. The most important springs are situated at Sulphur Point—a small peninsula at the southern end of Lake Rotorua. One of the most noted is Whangapipiro, a large circular pool of hot saline water, with silicates, and with an alkaline reaction.

The water, which is only a few degrees below boiling-point, is perfectly blue, and as clear as crystal, and when you look down into its deep and apparently fathomless basin, the white, alabaster-like deposits of silica hanging around its sides make it appear like a picturesque grotto formed of [Pg 64] coral rock.

Near to this bath is Te Kauhanga, or the "Pain-killer," the water of which is saline, with excess of acid and acid reaction. It is very efficacious in cases of acute rheumatism, and many marvellous cures are said to have been effected by it. Not far distant is Te Kauwhanga, a large, muddy basin, with a constant discharge of gas, which rises in the form of large bubbles upon the slimy-looking surface. The waters of this bath are slightly saline, with excess of acid and acid reaction, while the gas which is constantly evolved produces upon many, when inhaled, similar effects to those of laughing-gas.

Nearer to the lake is Te Pupunitanga formed by a warm spring of transparent water, the properties of which are aluminous, and strongly acid, with acid reaction. The water of this spring is very beneficial in cases of acute rheumatism and cutaneous disorders, and when used in its natural state—that is to say, without the admixture of fresh water—it produces a tingling sensation, and causes the skin to assume for a short time the redness of a boiled lobster.

The "Coffee-pot" is a hole about twelve feet in diameter, full of hot, bubbling mud of the colour of coffee, and which rolls and splutters about in a constant state of ebullition. The "Sulphur Cups," not far distant, are formed by small sulphurous springs of various degrees of temperature, which flow out of circular, cup-shaped basins, about four feet in diameter, around which the bright yellow mineral is deposited in the form of glittering crystals, while the "Cream Cups"—delicate and beautiful in formation—are fashioned out of cup-shaped craters, from the centre of each of which shoots forth a jet of sulphurous gas and steam.

From Sulphur Point I rode across to Whakarewarewa. Situated about two miles [Pg 65] to the south-west, and at the base of a range of bare hills, was a native settlement, surrounded by a wide area of thermal action. Here the geysers, hot springs, mud-holes, mud-cones, and solfataras were scattered about in every direction, while the ground hissed and seethed, as it were, in fury beneath one's feet. It was just such a place where you would expect at any moment to go head-first into a mud-hole or boiling spring, or be scalded to death by a shower of hot water from the big geysers as they threw up their steaming columns of silvery liquid high into the air with a loud, rumbling sound like distant thunder.

One of the largest geysers here, called by the natives Waikite, issues from a cone of silicious rock nearly fifty feet high and over a hundred feet in diameter, and in its most active moments throws up an enormous column of boiling water to a height of sixty feet. Many of the numerous springs here possess great curative properties, while the mud-holes and fumaroles are amongst the largest and most active in the district.


At Te Koutu, which lies on the shores of the lake, about a mile on the north side of Ohinemutu, there is a very interesting chain of warm springs and mud-holes. This is one of the most beautiful situations on Rotorua, of which a splendid view is obtained, with the island of Mokoia in the distance, and the forest-clad mountain Ngongotaha, rising to a height of feet above the level of the sea, and just in rear of the small native settlement, which here skirts the margin of the wide expanse of water.

There is one beautiful spring [Pg 66] here, called Tupuhi, of clear, hot water, which fills a snow-white silicious basin, about ninety feet long, while within a few feet of it is a circular basin of the same kind, in which the water is only of tepid heat. It is surrounded by a mantle of green grass, and the water of the darkest blue makes it look like a big turquoise set in a border of alabaster and emeralds.

I was shown round this locality by a native guide, who took me to a large hole where a warm spring, called Kahotawa, bubbled up in a mixture of greenish mud and scum. Its black sides were overgrown with ferns, and a few sticks were placed across it in a mystic, cabalistic kind of way. When we got near to it, I noticed that my guide drew back, and when I motioned for him to follow me, in order to explain the mystery, he informed me in the most solemn way that it was tapu for the Maori, but not for the pakeha. He afterwards stated that it was sacred to an aged chief, or rangatira , who had been buried in it.

I did not envy the old man his last resting-place, for I had never seen a grave that looked so much like a cauldron of hot turtle soup. Soon afterwards I passed in front of a whare built within a few feet of the lake, where there was an open bath right in front of the doorway. It was formed of a few slabs let into the ground, like a square box, to hold the water.

A small warm spring filled it, and then ran over its sides into the lake. I should not have taken any notice of this simple contrivance, had it not been for the fact that a maiden of some seventeen summers was reclining at full length in it, in the simple yet attractive costume of Eve, and with a [Pg 67] short black pipe in her mouth. I had stepped round the corner of the hut, and was within a foot of going head-first into the bath before her well-rounded form met my gaze. She was, however, in no way disconcerted by this contretemps , but, fixing her dark eyes upon me, said, in the most unconcerned way imaginable, " Tenakoe, pakeha.

At some distance further on I got into a warm bath myself, which caused a delightful sensation of glowing warmth, and when I was tired of this I plunged into the cool water of the lake, which produced an effect which seemed to brace up every nerve and muscle.